Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Acts Transition, Part 4

Today, we pick up our study in Acts 1:12.

VERSE 12: Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. A Sabbath day's journey is slightly over a mile.

VERSES 13-15: And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) Luke now names the apostles present by name. Of course, by this time, Judas was no longer with them. Notice also that it says that they were all in one accord in prayer and supplication. That is important to know since many today will contend that what they do next in choosing Matthias was not of God.

VERSE 16: Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. Peter, being the designated leader, points out from the Psalms 109 that Judas' office must be filled. Interestingly, there is no way that we would have known from simply reading the Psalm that Judas was being referred to. This is the case many times in the New Testament when light is shed on Old Testament passages. It has often been said, and it is true, that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. We must study both to fully understand either. Too many people today want to shy away from the Old Testament. That is not possible if you want to understand the Bible in its entirety.

VERSE 17: For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Yes, Judas was one of the original twelve apostles. Our Lord chose him knowing full well what he would do and prophetically had to do (Matthew 26:21-23). He was used, of his own will, by the way, to facilitate the crucifixion.

VERSES 18-19: Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. These verses are parenthetical in that they are just filling in the blanks in regards to background. It must also be noted that the field spoken of here is not the field that was purchased by the chief priests in Matthew 27:6-8 with the money that Judas returned to them. It must also be noted that the field that was purchased was not where Judas hung himself since they did not purchase that land until after he had done so (Matthew 27:1-5). Remember that Judas did hold the money bag and he was a thief according to John 12:6. In all likely hood, he hung himself somewhere else; even possibly on another piece of property that he himself purchased with his ill-gotten gain.

This brings up another point, too many times when we think of Judas, we imagine this shifty-eyed little creature that looked like a thief. However, that was obviously not the case since he was entrusted to hold the money. It is apparent that he was considered to be above reproach in this area. Furthermore, when the Lord told them at the Last Supper that one of them would betray him, none of them called out Judas. Instead, they each, in turn, said, "Lord, is it I?" (Matthew 26:22).

VERSE 20: For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take. Again, this is the quote from both Psa 69:25 and Psa 109:8 that Peter was referring to in regards to why Judas needed to be replaced.

VERSE 21-22: Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. Here we also learn that there were others who had been with them from the time of the baptism of Jesus by John until that same day that he was taken up in the Ascension. They were more than likely part of the one hundred and twenty spoken of in Acts 1:15. I believe that the point of these requirements is that the one that was chosen must have full knowledge of what was going on and present for the 40-day Kingdom seminar that he apparently had given according to Acts 1:3.

VERSE 23: And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. Based on the qualifications outlined in the previous verse, they chose two men.

VERSES 24-25: And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. Before proceeding, it is important to note that the apostles were with one accord (v.14), basing their decision on Scripture (v.20) and after careful deliberation (v.23) and with prayer (v.24). If the apostles cannot make a valid decision under these circumstances, then what hope is there for any of the rest of us?

VERSE 26: And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. This verse is a clear reminder that even after the Ascension the apostles were living in a different dispensation, for we would never condone this method of decision making. However, in their dispensation, Joshua divided the land by lot (Jos 18:10, Act 13:19), the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement was selected by lots (Lev 16:8), the division of the Levites was divided by lot (1Ch 24:5), and Jonah was determined to be the guilty party when the sailors cast lots (Jon 1:7). The casting of lots is never seen as luck or as poor judgment under the Dispensation of the Law; however, it is never used again under the new Dispensation of Grace.

Interestingly enough, even with all of that, because Matthias is never mentioned again, it has led many to assert that the apostles made a hasty decision and got ahead of God. Examples of this can be found in practically any commentary. They usually ask questions like, "Whose name will be on the 12th foundation of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:14? - Matthias or Paul?” Why would they ask this question? - Because they believe that Peter and the others got ahead of God and chose Matthias when they should have waited for Paul. Another commentary goes on to point out that the decision was made prior to Pentecost which insinuates that the decision was made in the flesh. After all, they conclude, "Peter did make his share of mistakes."

All of this just goes to prove that far too many in the church today do not understand what was truly happening in the first eight chapters of Acts.



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